Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Arms Treaty, the NRA, and a little Common Sense

On April 2, the AP reported that “the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved an arms [trade] Treaty [ATT] intended to keep weapons out of the hands of ‘terrorists, insurgents, organized crime figures, and human rights violators.’”

Three countries voted against the Treaty (are you ready?): Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Uncounted was a fourth hegemony, the NRA, whose EVP, Wayne LaPierre, had addressed the Assembly’s drafting committee in July of 2011 in an attempt to abort the Treaty in utero.

The U.S. signed on to the Treaty after ensuring that -- among other things -- it would not be binding on any domestic arms trade, or in any way contravene the provisions of the Second Amendment. Now, it must go to the Senate for ratification, and the ether is already abuzz with negative static from the NRA and its abettors which will no doubt at some point devolve into sowing fear among conspiracy theorists about jackbooted U.N. mercenaries in black helicopters coming to take our guns away from us, like the British tried to do in 1775.

I write this as a lifetime long-gun owner, target shooter, hunter, and former member of the NRA, who hopes to persuade his fellow enthusiasts that the NRA is in thrall to constituencies other than its general membership, e.g., powerful economic interests like the National Shooting Sports Federation, a trade association that fronts for the firearms industry. How else to account for the fact that Republican pollster, Frank Luntz, found – in July of last year – that “most NRA members and gun owners support more restrictive measures on gun ownership,” including 74% of NRA members who support (among other “common sense” issues) background checks, a measure that the NRA leadership is currently fighting tooth and nail on Capitol Hill.

I wish I had more confidence that the background check issue about to be debated by the Senate will survive (undiluted) its passage through Congress, but one always hopes that common sense will in fact prevail, even against such formidable odds.

UPDATE: The Senate ratified my lack of confidence in its rationality by voting down enhanced background checks.

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